A Cinderella Story (2004) — This shoe stinks

“Waiting for you is like waiting for rain to end the drought: disappointing and useless.”

Justin’s rating: Please, please, please let me get what I want

Justin’s review: Hillary Duff — “The Duffster,” as she’s affectionately called by close family and certain species of monkeys. A re-telling of the done-to-death tale of Cinderella. The color pink. California.

Oh yeah, we’ve hit Hell, and we’re still going down.

When I sat down to watch A Cinderella Story with my late friend Bob, his wife, and my fiancé, I couldn’t help but feel immense pity for teenage girls subjected to this sort of slop. Sure, female teens probably didn’t ask for or want my sympathy, but then again I’m sure they didn’t want puberty either, so we’re stuck with a lot of bitter feelings all around.

I realize that when I was a kid, I swallowed a lot of cinematic tripe thinking it was the best thing since cyber-bread, when in actuality I ended up realizing it as bugloaf as soon as I received my official Thinking For Myself License. I’d hope that sooner or later, teen girls would eventually throw their pom-pons down in disgust as the never-ending parade of Hollywood’s warped sense of what teenagers are like (all of whom seem to live in Orange County, which is, I guess, a massive internment camp for the terminally clueless). Rise in revolt, estrogen-based teens! Say, “She’s All That? I don’t want any!” Scream, “Some of us actually get pimples and don’t look like we can be modeling for Vickie’s Secret!” Pound on your chest and bellow, “And the PROM is NOT the be-all, end-all of my existence!”

Despite giving an “old school” fairy tale a “fresh, hip” makeover, A Cinderella Story is an embarrassment of stupidity all around. The fairy tale connections actually work against the film, because you’re constantly trying to second-guess how they’re going to work in the fairy godmother or the glass slipper into modern-day conventions. And when you’re that distracted, you have no time to appreciate the (snort) pristine performance of all of these actors, rising to the level of half-drugged gerbils.

I need not tell you the plot to this movie, because our test gerbils (which are nearly drug-free, due to extensive rehab) were able to combine the classic fairy tale with a mesh of all current teen girl movie stereotypes, and produce a blend that’s spot-on to the story here. Duff plays Sam (the “Cinderella”) who has an evil stepmother and evil stepsisters and has to work in her stepmother’s diner and has no self-respect and has a crush on a guy she’s never seen but just text messaged and blah de blah blah blah. While the movie tries to pour on the lovey-dovey sap so strong that you feel suffocated beneath its oozing flow, none of it works. It’s all a series of pointlessly predictable and stupid events leading up to the misunderstood Sam’s reconciliation with her dream hunk of a football quarterback.

Is this what girls really want to hear? That while they may feel like the ugly duckling outcasts, they’re really gorgeous singers-slash-actresses-slash-teen-stars who really do have a worse life than everybody else and who can turn it all around by just getting the most perfect, gorgeous, athletic guy in school to pay attention to them? I mean, to partake of ’80s Valley-speak, gag me with a spoon!

Austin [actual quote from the film]: Do you believe in love at first sight?

Justin [watching the film in agony]: Or should I walk by again?

In an effort to be somewhat fair, Sam’s male friend — who fills the role of being a really great guy but not perfect-enough looking for Sam to fall in love with — is kind of a hoot. He’s goofy, willing to make a fool out of himself for a joke, and would be most welcome in almost any future teen ensemble cast.

I’m under no impression that it’s anything but creepy that I not only saw this movie but also ordered the movie-sponsored breakfast at Denny’s with Sean (complete with PINK sprite and PINK whipped cream on my pancakes and my free PINK movie poster), but I sincerely doubt it’s much better if you’re a 10-year-old teen girl who ends up renting this instead of, say, Freaky Friday. A Cinderella Story only manages to give you new excuses every few minutes to bang your head on something blunt, until the film is finally over and you’re in the trauma ward with no idea how you got there.

Except that it had something to do with the color pink.

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